Jewish Heritage Europe

Jewish gravestones in Poland/Ukraine: lists and new discoveries

Jewish cemetery in Rohatyn Photo: Rohatyn Jewish Heritage group/Marla Raucher Osborn

Virtual shtetl informs that new lists of gravestones from Jewish cemeteries in the towns of Ostrowiec Swietokrzyski and Rohatyn (now in Ukraine) have been published on its portal, as part of the Memory in Stone project. The stones in Ostrowiec Swietokrzyski were photographed by members of the “Nie z tej bajki” Association and those in Rohatyn by Marla Raucher Osborn. Hebrew grave inscriptions have been translated into Polish by Renata Uszynska. (Click HERE to see  images of matzevot and fragments from the Jewish Cemeteries of Rohatyn as part of the Rohatyn Tombstone Recovery Project by the Rohatyn Shtetl Research Group.) 

The Memory in Stone project so far includes lists of gravestones in 79 cemeteries (out of approximately 1,200 known Jewish cemetery sites in Poland) with positioning maps, photographs and translations of names and/or inscriptions. (Not all have photographs or translations at this time.)

‘Memory in Stone’ helps people who are searching for graves of their ancestors and their Jewish origins. Most of them live far away from Poland, and therefore it is hard for them to come to Europe. Lists of matzevos are also a valuable historical source for researchers of the history and legacy of local Jewish communities. We also hope that in the awareness of the inhabitants of towns, the publication of photographs of headstones and of names of the deceased will transform unnamed and unidentified stones with intelligible inscriptions into specific burial sites of people with concrete names, such as David, Rachel or Sarah.


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In related news, Virtual Shtetl reports on the discovery of Jewish gravestones in several towns in Poland.

Krzysztof Bielawski writes that a fragment of a matzeva  was restored to the Jewish cemetery in Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski in late January — a taxi driver who had used it to shore up the foundations of his house gave it to two of his clients, an Israeli and an American tourist. Also, he writes, a well-preserved matzeva was discovered during construction work on a street in Lipno, in the Kujawsko-Pomorskie Province.

In addition, he adds:

Virtual Shtetl has received information about a discovery of about sixty matzevos in Ryczywół (Wielkopolskie Province). Thanks to a search by Robert Zimny, Jacek Dereżyński and others, it has become clear that the local Jewish cemetery survived the war in a relatively good condition. It was only in later years that Jewish headstones were used as a construction material in a nearby state-run agricultural farm. Volunteers from Ryczywół have successfully unearthed a few dozen matzevos. Presently, talks with the Jewish Religious Community in Poznań are being held. The headstones may be transported to the cemetery.


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